Extracellular signal regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2), an important factor in signal transduction, controls cell growth, differentiation, and death. To elucidate the details of the mechanism of ERK1/2 signaling in human cells, we isolated Nef-associated factor 1 alpha (Naf1 alpha) by a yeast two-hybrid system, which bound to human ERK2. The binding was confirmed by a pull-down assay in vitro and immunoprecipitation in vivo. Upon EGF treatment, Naf1 alpha was phosphorylated by the EGF/MEK/ERK2 signal transduction pathway. To identify the role of Naf1 alpha in the ERK2 signaling, Naf1 alpha-expressing Saos-2 cells were analyzed for ERK2 nuclear translocation and activation of its downstream target. Overexpression of Naf1 alpha suppressed ERK2 entering into the nucleus and inhibited the ERK2-dependent Elk1-driven luciferase transcription, suggesting Naf1 alpha to be an attenuator of activated ERK2 signaling.
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